She is kind. Glitter seems to trail her path. My colleague. She is blonde, fair, with Prussian-blue eyes. She wears silver necklaces in the shape of seahorses. Her hair flows in honey-colored waves down her back. Her smile could light the darkest room. And the other day she gave me a gift that has serendipitously placed me in new geography, a territory bursting with color--like Dorothy walking into Oz. She came into my office and placed a turquoise gift bag in front of me. The next day I was off to one of my medical treatments. She knew it would be a challenging day. Each gift was wrapped in bright pink tissue paper studded with miniature white stars. I found a tasty energy bar, then a light-blue journal imprinted with the phrase "Find Peace." The third gift included a carrying case of thirty-six multi-colored gel pens. "I thought these colors would help brighten your days. I love gel pens and coloring things." She smiled then, her face lit up like a sunrise.
I placed the gel pens in my office and didn't use them right away. There was no question that the journal would be used. I write something every day, and I fill up journals quickly. I'd already eaten the energy bar. But the pens? They were something I'd never buy for myself. But recently I'd purchased a sketch book. I didn't draw. I don't know why I bought it, yet I found a box of sketch pencils and taken them with the pad up to the cash register. The next day, I'd sharpened a pencil and drew two pictures. The drawings were surely the work of an amateur, but I liked them, and when I drew, I felt my relationship deepening with the page, a feeling close to my experience when I write. There was something missing from my drawings, though. Color.
A scene of an open, expansive, flower-covered field entered my mind. I wanted to draw that wide space. I opened the set of gel pens, tentative at first. There were so many. So many colors. What to choose? I began with the sky, then began drawing in the field. It was what I'd imagine flying to feel like. I'd lifted off, almost as if I'd transcended my life, my hands moving quickly over the page as I applied dots of cobalt, splashes of cyan, copper, russet and tangerine. Swaths of crimson, coral, viridian and lemon. I feasted on all those colors, like a person might gorge in a strawberry patch, fingers stained pink from the succulent juices And then my picture, my field. I entitled the sketch, May Morning.
The colors seemed to represent a shelter for me. The colors covered me from some of the harshness of life, the way it can assail at times--like having a red umbrella on a dark, stormy day That burst of color staving off the sharp sting of rain. A sanctuary.